The Mintroom 12-16 Clifton Rd Bristol BS8 1AF 01173 291 300 www.themintroom.co.uk

mintroom ext

 

Hello once again dear reader,

It has been a while since we wrote a blog here and for good reason.

We have criss crossed the face of our beautiful city sampling various Indian restaurants and over the years have chosen our selected winner per year, yet over the last eighteen months , there has been nothing that has piqued my palate enough to put enough interest in me to write anything substantial.

 

Now Bristol is filled with  gems, The botanic gardens in Stoke Bishop, The Clifton arcade,  Blaise castle, truly there is something for everyone but when it comes to eating, and when it comes to an amazing Indian culinary experience, then I believe we have found the best hidden gem in Bristol.

In December 2014 Luthfur Rahman opened the Mintroom in Clifton, having already enjoyed success in Bath under the same name four years ago.

We encountered a different thought process in Indian cuisine with Namaskar Lounge which sadly didn’t maintain enough momentum to stay open but here, the bar has not just been raised but hiked up.

They offer a full a la carte, a lounge menu and soon to come a lunch menu, as well as a well stocked bar and cocktail offering, all of which we willingly took advantage of, the only downside was a lack of  draught beer  but then cold bottles were available.

image -103

On entering we immediately felt that being in Clifton and with the obvious class of finishes this wasn’t going to be a standard experience, from the elegant waiting staff to the classy surroundings, the dark stained timbers and brass inlay framed boats, this is a well thought out, well cared for, and serious business, a million miles away from the city centre Indian restaurants

image -008

The welcome was ingratiating, friendly, inviting, made to feel like you are a guest not just a customer.

And so to the food, and before anything and to put substance behind the judgement of the food here, the Head chef hails from the Tamarind in Mayfair London, one Saravanan Nambirajan, classically trained  and obviously in love with his trade. The philosophy is simple, healthy and tasty food , using locally sourced ingredients and the choice on the menu is a blend of old and new, a sprinkling of recognised dishes and an enticing choice of new names, certainly to us anyway.

 

The poppadoms come in small pieces in dishes accompanied by pickles, simple, incredibly tasty and very moreish, and much more attractive than a plate of standard offerings, all served on dark timber platters, a running theme throughout along with slates for other dishes.

The starters were ordered, service was friendly, efficient, and quick and when they arrived well, they all looked like the winning dish from Masterchef

I had

  • Pudina lamb tikka

neck pieces so perfectly cooked and marinated in mint, coriander and hung yoghurt accompanied by a light rogan josh sauce and I don’t think I have ever tasted better, in fact, I know I haven’t.

lamb tikka

Others had

  • Tandoori chicken tikka

marinated in classic tandoori spices, served with tomato and cucumber salad, mint and honey raita with toasted sesame seeds, again, commented on as, Oh my god.

chicken tikka

 

  • Tawa scallops-Kaffir lime-cucumber

Plancha seared hand dived scallops, ( maybe not so local?) Kaffir lime and fresh green chilli sauce, tempered cucumber with cumin with  toasted and crushed peanuts

scallops

In truth, these are the best starters we have experienced, not just in an Indian restaurant either I would say , and all bar the scallops could be taken as mains

Mains

  • Tawa Duck

Roast breast of duck, crispy onion bhaji, apple sultana and black mustard chutney, Sweet and sour sauce

Again, comments given that justify the flavour of the dish

tawa duck

  • Chicken lababdar

Free range chicken breast cooked in chefs own take on lababdar sauce with fresh ginger, green chillies, coriander leaves and fresh cream

lababdar

 

  • Masala lamb shank

Pot roasted Welsh Lamb shamk braised with onion, tomato, yoghurt and ground sesame seeds, and when they say on the menu it is melt in the mouth, it is melt in the mouth

massala lamb shank

 

  • Chicken Jalfrezi

Now I am a chicken Jalfrezi enthusiast but believe me, this rises above them all, enough said

jalfrezi

 

Usually, it would stop there, the waiter would come around and ask, would you like dessert and we would say, no thank you

The waiter came around and asked if we would like dessert and we said, no thank you, then Ataur, the communications director came over and said, how about you sample our chefs own sorbet

Wel, i have never been a sorbet lover but we agreed and they brought out three scoops of a rather delicious looking sorbet, raspberry, strawberry and chocolate and some small spoons and my life,

it was like eating fresh fruit, disguised as sorbet, just sumptuously made and fresh as you like while still being refreshing.

Then coffee, which again was delicious compared to some we have tasted.

This was then followed by sampling the cocktails.

I am not a great cocktail lover but we sampled,

  • A little bit of symphony

little bit of symphony

  • Passion

passion

and

  • Campari Negroni

campari negroni

Then the finishing touch with coffee and the bill was the minted leaves  

  

To anyone wanting to treat another, to anyone wanting to impress another, to anyone wanting to sample the dishes of a chef who completely understands the subtlety of spicing and a true true love and passion for his food, whilst surrounded by the finest detailing, the creative thought and styling of a business that has the vision to entice and lure you back, then this is without doubt the place.

When we visited Namaskar lounge first time, my colleague wrote,

“This is a first date, suited and booted, boss seducing, client impressing, girl winning, anniversary hosting, lottery winning, company credit card restaurant”

He was right then but the entire staff of The Mintroom have taken this onto another level, without overstating and by just looking at what makes a great dining experience.

Simple, tasty food in comfortable surroundings and friendly caring people who want you to not just go away happy, but to come back again and again, and you will

 

We usually score the restaurants on different criteria. but I haven’t even bothered asking the guys because it was obvious on the night and I am feeling obsequious enough already, can’t wait to go back

 

Damian

 

 

 

 

4500 miles from Delhi : 8 Colston Avenue, Bristol, BS1 4ST: www.4500miles.co.uk : 8th Jan 2014

4500

Dear reader, we would like to introduce our new blogger Piers who will be carrying the baton forward in his own brilliant style, unedited, read on

There was a time when music was reproduced on large round discs made of vinyl. And these treasures were housed in dazzling sleeves which – like the small of a female Geordie back – provided a rich canvas for the artistic expression of a generation. Oh the joy of that shiny sleeve and the endless hours spent in ruminative contemplation – all the better to unravel the hidden meaning and endless mysteries of a bearded hippies imagination. Later – as the dull marketing men assumed that the consumer would ( regardless of content ) snap up anything in an impressive housing – your friendly record shop became home to all manner of bombastic anachronisms. Great looking packages which drew you forward, persuading you that the sounds therein would do justice to the riches of their wrapping. Now you know how bands like Gillan reached the charts.

Which talk of style over substance brings us nicely to 4500 Miles From Delhi.

Now, I am willing to bet you plenty of 7 to 5 that The Proclaimers were not talking about this curry house when they started their walk. For even they – with all their perambulation ability – would baulk at the idea of travelling any sort of distance to fall down at this particular door. If the brothers Reid had really set out to write a song in homage to this Bristol eatery they would have hit writers block at ” When I wake up ” and stayed at home for a quiet Haver.

4500 Miles From Delhi is situated in a genuinely impressive building in Colston Avenue on the centre. And the interior is staggering.

int3 This is the full glossy gatefold sleeve with printed lyrics, a free booklet, free single and sew on patch. This is not a restaurant where one slides carefully between tight tables on the way to reach the toilet via the kitchen. This is a venue where you could practice your touchdown passes and still have room to kick for the posts. Gleaming wooden flooring. Copious artistic wall adornments. Soft lighting and immaculate table settings – even such men of distinction as your humble Curry Crusaders ( no strangers we to the pleasures of the International high table ) were rightfully impressed.

But where were the customers ? This is a Thursday night and the weekend starts here. Pockets of activity for sure – but that was only because one of our party thought we could not see under the table.

The service was attentive at the start, as anybody who has ever been spared the hard labour of having to take a ribbon off their serviette will attest. The waiters were helpful, patiently explaining the lager options patiently as our party debated the endless mystery ( after nearly five years you might hope we could offer definitive advice ) on the relative merits of Cobra v Kingfisher.

Our starters were varied although three of us went for the Deep Fried Stuffed Hot Chilies.

dfc

Now, I must note that the plurality of the title is not a typing mistake. Yes it does say – and I have checked again – chillieS. For £ 5.95 one might reasonably expect ( as your scribe enjoyed at Casa Mexicana last week ) four or five
plump chillies, duly crisped, with an intriguing dip or garnish. On the basis that to diminish expectation is to increase enjoyment then this would have been just about perfect. We enjoyed neither the price nor the eating – here was a starter that registered only heat which in turn masked the taste of the stuffing. Although we  searched our collective memories for the name of the spice that might have left such a bitter taste the only one we could come up with was parsimony.

Other starters were the Dosa

 ( a thin and crispy rice crepe served with spicy potato ), Lamb Shashlik Kebab ( marinated lamb, barbequed with onions and peppers ) and Chicken Pakora.

The Dosa

dosa

was described as bland and basic but ok.

The Lamb Shashlik

ls ( at £ 7.95 ) was enjoyed but as qualifying statements go, our Curry Club enforcers deathless description of the dish ( ” does what it says on the tin ” ) turned out to be ominously prescient given the later Chicken Lababdar.

The Chicken Pakora

pak was described as the food equivalent of watching West Ham United – although, to be fair, I did not see it sliding alarmingly down the table. This was three pieces of chicken in a nondescript batter which came with plenty of nothing – no sauce, no dip. No spice. It was described as ” like a big chicken nugget – and I am not happy. In fact I am really disappointed “. I admit to you, pious and patient reader, that my removal of two choice words from that last sentence was an act of mercy, a culinary cut made in order to maintain the PG certification of this review.

The six of us had spent a combined £ 36.70 on starters and the response to the food was less than a ringing endorsement. This was the musical equivalent of putting the needle down on track one side one of Abbey Road ( with the lights low and Mrs Crusader waiting for that nice Come Together bass note ) and being assailed by Maxwells Silver Hammer.

The main courses again saw one dish favoured by your reviewers. Three of us were enticed by the Chicken Bemisaal ( £ 10.95 excluding rice ) which was offered ( I kid you not ) as ” a dish from princely cuisine of the Nawabs of Avadh, the most passionate patrons of gastronomy in the golden age – Tikka culled from chicken supreme simmered in a smooth onion and garlic tomato puree – an evocation of cinnamon and clove. Aptly described by royal guests of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah as Bemisaal – meaning incomparable “.

Now, I know you must be able to hear me laughing as I type this out but then dear reader you are not yet sitting in the warm surrounds of a mock colonial boudoir being seduced by these full of eastern promises. This was the descriptive equivalent of that shiny mirrored record cover that you can see your face in
( Uriah Heep appropriately enough ) and of course we two kings of orient fell for it.  This was third album weak – described as bland and tasteless and bearing absolutely no relation to the strength indicator ( it had three peppers next to it where three peppers is hottest – oh for three peppers as my starter but that is another story ). Like a seventies ice skater with lockjaw, this was a Curry with no bite.

Other main courses were Chicken Chettinad

chet at £ 10.95 excluding rice ( too salty, disappointing, very lacklustre ) which was ordered by our president. This esteemed connoisseur had tried the same dish on our last visit a couple of years ago when it had been excellent and interesting. Now the standards seemed to have fallen dramatically. The North Indian Garlic Chilli Chicken

nigcc( £ 9.95 excluding rice ) was tender with plenty of sauce but was described as mediocre.

The Dum Ki Biryani Chicken ( £ 12.95 excluding rice ) had a cost which promised far more than it delivered. It was rated as ok but our tester admitted to only having been blown away by the price. He explained ” what you pay and what you get just doesn’t add up. This was cooked well enough but this is really overpriced and overrated ” .

The other main dish chosen was the Chicken Lababdar ( £ 10.95 excluding rice ) proffered as a dish that was ” sure to become one of your favourites “. This was nondescript – chicken in a ” tomatoey sauce – I wonder what it does say on the tin ? “.  Reader, I am quietly confident than in all eventuality it will not become one of our favourites. I know this because it tested the descriptive vocabulary of even our most battle hardened reviewer. This is a man who volunteers to stand in a scrum every Saturday and who is known to be a titan in all fields – particularly that of righteous anger. This is a man who twisted a testicle last Saturday – fortunately it was not one of his own. ” If it had been Labrador ” he grumbled ” I would have at least had something interesting to eat and talk about. I reckon they asked the chef what the dish was going to be called when he was half way through drinking a glass of water “.

Our review ends much as you suspected it would. We bought the album with the pretty cover – we had handed over our money and were left with just the contents to sustain us. This was pretentious song titles passed off as the thrill of the artistic moment. This was Duran Duran when you really wanted Londons Calling. Or The Damned licking whipped cream.

Having racked up £ 175

bill there were to be no mints with the coffee. No little chocolates. We did have the tiniest sweets ever

sweet( reproduced here if our camera was able to pick up the image rather than a passing proton ) and were asked if we could leave in 5 minutes ( at 22.51 on a Thursday night ) because they
” had to shut at 11.00 “.

So now we have to make our way home again until next month. But you can help me to close this review if you have any sense of community now that we have had the sermon. Are you ready ? Ok – after me ” when I get up – well you know I’m gonna be ” ……….

4500 Miles From Delhi – we give it 4500 out of 10000.

 

Bombay Spice 10 The Mall Bristol BS8 4DR 01179706066 10th Jan 2013

We last visited here in July 2012, and as are the rules of our venture, you can book the restaurant if you have never been there yourself and as one of our group was absent last time, he decided we go back again.

So, the question is,  is it going to get a similar review, better or worse?

Lets see

As it was summer the last time, it gave a good summer evening feel as the front opens up but in Jan felt less welcoming especially as we had booked and we got the impression it didnt matter, as they didnt seem bothered and hadnt booked us in.

Again, nothing outstanding with  service or appetisers, so straight to the starters

Starters

  • Onion Bhaji :-   Its an onion bhaji 
  • Onion bhaji
  • Lamb Shikam Puri  :-  a finely minced lamb cake stuffed with green chillies and mint, well spiced and tasty

Lamb shikam puri

  • Lamb chat                   :- Tandoori baked lamb kebab rings,mixed with onions, green chillies,coriander leaves and sour spices

Lamb chat

  • Paneer Pakora           :- Pieces of home made cheese, marinaded and mixed with gram flour and fried
  •   Paneer pakora
  • Bombay chops           :- chefs special preparation of lamb chops,marinated in yogurt, with herbs and spices, barbecued on skewer in a clay oven: not as interesting as described

Mains

  • Chicken Jal Fry                   :- Jalfrezi, with fresh chillies, really salty this one on this night
  • Chicken tikka Rezala         :-  Not a normal itme on your average indian and a good choice on this night, goos spice and taste
  • Garlic chilli massala          :-  Quite bland, sauce un interesting, disappointing
  • Chicken Modhu Puri          :- Not particularly well spiced
  • Shelong to Delhi railway feast :- Chicken breast delicately spiced with minced lamb, off the beaten track dish
  •  Lamb Dansak
  • Lamb Pathia

All in all, a fairly uninspiring visit and much the same as the last time we visited.

More suited to a quick sit down after an evening out with the munchies

 

Scoring 61/100

Namaskar Lounge 6th Dec 2012 Return visit and presentation

Presenting the trophy

Presenting the trophy

Luckily enough for us we booked for our usual first Thursday of the month and it happened to coincide with their 1st Birthday Party bash.

When I booked this was mentioned and that it was a set menu, and I said that would be fine and explained the reason for our visit.

We were kindly offered,  as we had chosen them as this years winner, choices from the a la carte menu which is just another reason why this is such a great restaurant as  they understand the importance of being accommodating if possible.

We arrived and were given an absolutely fabulous welcome, free glass of bubbly and mention to all the diners that Namaskar Lounge had been chosen and that we were presenting them our trophy as acknowledgement which felt even more befitting , it being thier 1st Birthday party.

Another great array of meals, as good as before and service to match.

The Namaskar Lounge really is one of the best Indian Restaurants in Bristol and for last year in our humble opinion, the best.

Totally deserved, and please please go and book, take your wife, girlfriend, partner, client, go alone or with friends, you are guaranteed great food and great drinks.

Now we embark on the first restaurant tonight of 2013, watch this space

Announcing the Curry Crusaders restaurant winner 2012

Well all you curry followers. If you have been reading the blogs you will have seen the restaurants we have visited this year and great fun it has been as well.

 

last years deserved winner was Spice of India in Small St Bristol and deservedly so.

this year we have been to

  • Krishna Inn,Clifton   full of potential but needed much more to realise that potential  7/10
  • Namaskar Lounge, Bristol  a real new style top notch restaurant, scored an 8/10 but we decided on reflection it felt more like a 9/10
  • The Clove , Bristol.  Great as a take away as the food is really good, but service was dire. Scored a 6 based mostly on service
  • Oh Calcutta ! Bristol,   Reading back through our review it was sadly  just Ok Calcutta !
  • Bombay Spice Clifton, an unimpressive 7/10
  • Lal Jomi, Bristol. Highly recommended and although like Namaskar Lounge we scored it an 8/10 felt more like a 9/10
  • Redland Tandoori Bristol, average, really slow service , generous at a 7/10
  • Bombay Boulevard Bristol, really just a late night venue after a skinful in our view, 5-6/10
  • Myristica, Bristol, attentive service, nice touches, great food, a real contender, 8.5-9/10

The Winner this year has been a stand out,   front of the queue winner, and is Namaskar Lounge.

Although Myristica was good, it was as we said more of a lunch type venue, and Lal Jomi although one of the best for authentic fresh cooking, the food was generally just a tad salty. Taking into account also, the overall appearance, ambience and first class service, it was an easy choice this year, well done Namaskar Lounge and Happy Birthday

We have booked again for tonight which is their birthday bash, so really looking forward to it, and will be presenting the legendary and much coveted trophy.

 

Roll on 2013 and more curries, any recommendations of hidden gems are really welcomed

The Curry Crusaders

 

 

Myristica 51 Welsh Back Bristol BS1 4AN 01179272277 www.myristica.co.uk 1st Nov 2012

This is a nicely situated restaurant, within an easy walk of Kings square and those lovely old pubs, so it was from there we made our way into Myristica, and to a lovely welcome , into a somewhat jumbled but pleasant design in my view. Old style restaurant chairs, against zebrano timber panelling, lit by coffer lighting and then mirrored by a very Deco style mirror behind the open bar.

We sat and ordered beers and unusually they had Tiger on draught ! a step in the right direction .

Followed by pickles and poppadoms and a great selection of pickles  as well. Very clean and crisp as were the poppadoms

Very attentive service which gives you a real feeling that you are being pampered, and we all like a bit of pampering sometimes.

Starters

  • Chaplin Kebab :-  Minced lamb patties made with cinnamon, chilli flakes,garlic, dry coriander and chopped onion

  • Kaju Malai roll :- Mashed potatoes,mixed veg,cashew and paneer with green chilli, ginger rolled with crumbs and deep fried
  • Baby Squid          :- Rings of squid deep fried and tossed with bell peppers, chilli flakes and honey

  • Boti kebab           :- Chunks of lamb meat traditionally marinated in spiced yoghurt and cooked over hot charcoal embers

I would say, across the board, some of the best starters we have had to date.

Mains

  • Pista Murgh                            :- Succulent of chicken cooked in a korma style sauce then with pistachio and saffron added
  • Lamb Rogan Josh                 :-Spring lamb curry cooked with blended spices, herbs and yoghurt
  • Vermicelli Mysore chicken :- Boneless chicken cooked with roasted coriander,chillies, curry leaves, and served on a bed of Indias favourite seasoned thin rice pasta

  • Gost do Piazza                          :- Delicious lamb stew invented by Mullah Do Piazza the renowned and celebrated cook at the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court, builder of the Taj Mahal

  • Chicken vindaloo                    :- traditionally from Goa,tender pieces of chicken slow cooked with hot fresh green and        red chillies
  • Dhaba murg                              :- a popular rural indian chicken curry made with onions,tomatoes, hung yoghurt and  fresh coriander

All of the above were excellent plates of food, prepared freshly by a chef who takes a pride in his cooking, which is so rare it seems amongst a lot of the Indian restaurants we visit.

Followed by good coffees and then a complimentary shot each, which is a great touch.

So to the verdict.  Myristica has a feel of a business lunch sort of place and although great tasting food, feels more as though it is focussing on the taste and steering away from too much heat which is generally fine but not if you are into hot curries. To be fair, we were told that the heat factor was slightly lower than traditionally expected on some dishes. Portions were also slightly smaller in some areas.

In our view, definitely one to visit, even though it wasnt the cheapest, its better to pay a little bit more to get decent traditional food. Treat yourself and get yourself off to Myristica, and keep and eye out because shortly we will be announcing the winner of our curry house of 2012.

Myristica scored a respectable 8.5 pushing a 9

Bombay Boulevard 4 Denmark Street,Bristol, BS1 5DQ http://www.bombayboulevard.co.uk 0117 927 3544

 

The Bombay Boulevard is situated just off the centre in Bristol, and is a straightforward Indian Restaurant giving the impression it is mainly a late night, post drinks venue, and this was re inforced by the fact that on this evening we were the only ones in for at least half an hour before another couple wandered in.

A fairly basic almost cafe style layout, suspended ceiling, and a feeling that you eat and go rather than stay around enjoying the ambience, however

 

 

The service was lightning quick, if I have said previously about service being quick, this eclipsed them all. Add to that an extremely varied menu and this was giving the impression of being a surprise find.

However, on choosing the starters, we discovered that there was a name only of each one with no description of what they were which is ok if you frequent Indian restaurants often but it helps to know what you are ordering.

Service again was quick and the waiter helpful when queried on the menu. Cobras and poppadums followed, mind you the pickles were really salty which was a shame

 

Starters

  • Chana Puri         :-      cooked in a medium sauce with fried indian bread
  • Reshmi kebab   :-      chicken mince seasoned with cream, coconut and butter

 

Mains

  • Lamb de khudu                      :- a delicious sounding Bangladeshi dish with butternut squash, however, this was out of stock, at 9 pm? with no one in, so instead
  • Chicken Bahonia                   :- cooked with butter beans, really unusual and looked great
  • Chilli Chicken Massala       :- spicy, hot and lots of chillies
  • Lamb Kofta                               :- a warm Indian meatball dish
  • Chicken Murghi massala  :- cooked with ground almonds, coconut flour and fresh cream
  • Lamb Madras                          :-  a standard dish in most indians, spicy and hot

 

This was an unusual evening as it turned out because we ordered the second round of cobras, to be presented with small bottles of kingfisher as the barrel had run out of the cobra. Luckily one of our crew is a landlord so stepped up to the plate and changed it and to be fair , the waiter didnt charge us for the kingfishers.

All in all , although this was cheaper than most places we visit, it felt it, and feels even more so that we would have felt more at home on a friday night, after a really good session on the beer, being typically drunken guys in a late night Indian.

We would score it between a 5 and 6 out of ten but certainly no more. There are much much better just over the other side of the centre, so check them out on our blog.

 

 

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